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India’s ties with both US, Russia 'stand on their own merit': MEA in Parliament

India’s ties with both US, Russia 'stand on their own merit': MEA in Parliament

However, the MEA added, "India has called for immediate cessation of hostilities and return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue with respect to the conflict in Ukraine.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, India, December 6, 2021. (Photo: Reuters) Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, India, December 6, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)

"India has close and friendly relations with both the United States and Russia and they stand on their own merit," the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) told Parliament on Thursday, in reply to a query whether the Ukraine war had affected ties.

MEA's statement comes in response to the recent remarks made by the US President Joe Biden calling India’s stance on Russian invasion of Ukraine as “shaky”, which was later clarified by the US State Department.

"India has called for immediate cessation of hostilities and return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue with respect to the conflict in Ukraine," Minster of State, MEA, Meenakshi Lekhi stated in a written reply.
The government’s statement was replying to an unstarred question raised by Member of Parliament K. R. Suresh Reddy.

In addition, the government also informed that it had evacuated around 22,500 Indian nationals from Ukraine since February. It also added that as part of its timely response to the crisis, the country launched ‘Operation Ganga’ under which 90 evacuation flights including, 14 Indian Air Force flights were operated and were monitored at the MEA on a 24x7 basis as well.

“The government took several steps such as fresh registration of Indian nationals in Ukraine by the Indian Embassy in Kyiv in January 2022; issuance of regular advisories; removal of restrictions on air-bubble arrangement with Ukraine; setting-up of 24x7 Control Room in Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Missions in Kyiv and its neighbouring countries; deployment of teams of Russian speaking officers in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries and also at the border points,” the MEA stated.

It further said that Prime Minister Modi spoke to Presidents of Russia and Ukraine on multiple occasions and “specifically took up the issue of safe evacuation of Indian nationals, especially from Kharkiv and Sumy”.

Four Union Ministers were deputed to oversee the evacuation efforts in Romania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. “Missions in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries also arranged accommodation, transport and food for the stranded Indians to the extent possible in coordination with various civil society organizations including Indian community organizations, and also helped in coordinating smooth evacuation flight operations,” the Ministry added.